Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Freedom Trial

We braved the narrow, one way streets of downtown Boston to take the Heinisch crew on the Freedom Trail.  The weather was gorgeous this morning, which added to the enjoyment of our adventure.  Along the red brick path we visited many historical sites important to the start of the American Revolution.  The home of Paul Revere, the Old North Church, Boston Common and the State Capitol building were just a few of the ones we saw.

Since we introduced everyone to Cheers on the way out, lunch at Bull & Finch Pub (the inspiration for the show) was a must.  As we enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere after the three mile walk,  I asked each person what they valued most about our morning.  They all agreed at once - the cemetery.  It may seem strange, but I felt the same way.  As we walked along the graves, searching for the tombstones of John Hancock, Samuel Adams, the parents of Benjamin Franklin, and even Mother Goose, it  felt as though we were part of history.

The afternoon was spent touring the USS Constitution and the battle sites at Minuteman National Park.  We were all impressed that Cameron made it up the 294 stairs to look out the top of the Bunker Hill Monument.  That was 244 more stairs than his mother!  As we sit relaxing in our hotel before dinner, I have to say that day three of our non-Florida vacation was exhausting, but well worth it!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Salem Witch Trials


The second day of our non-Florida vacation was spent first at Salem, Massachusetts.  Brett had read The Crucible, but the other three did not have a lot of knowledge about the events of 1692.  It was interesting to hear their questions and comments as we toured the Salem Witch Museum, the house of Judge Corwin, and the memorial benches of the victims - "What is a Pagen?" (Meg), "Why didn't Giles Corey confess rather than be pressed to death" (Cam), "I need to read more about George Burroughs" (Brett), and my personal favorite, "Why would they listen to 14 year old girls?" (Cal).

We then headed to the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum.  It is a new museum and was highly recommended by a friend of Meg's.  We were not disappointed!  We all became Patriots and were caught up in the excitement of Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty.  We donned our "costumes" and cried "Huzzah!" as the tea went into the Boston Harbor.  The highlight for Cam was being picked to ring the bell and crying, "All ashore that's going ashore!"

The final historical stop of the day was the JFK Presidential Library.  A trip to the Lego Store and dinner at Tavern in the Square made for a great end of the day.  Now if we can talk Doug into a late night run to Coldstone Creamery, we can all sleep well!

Friday, March 29, 2013


As we discussed Spring Break plans this year it was evident that Doug and Cal had no interest in going to Florida. I can't say that I blame them.  We have been to Disney World ten times and last April it was very crowded.  Doug and I talked about several ideas.  We wanted a place that had something for everyone, especially Brett since this will probably be his last Spring Break trip with us.  So while everyone else headed South, we packed the van for a trip east to Boston.

A road trip with the Heinisch family is always interesting.   The fourteen hour drive was a great time to introduce the kids to WKRP in Cincinnati (a new favorite.).  Cam was banned from drinking lemonade to avoid having to stop every twenty minutes.  As always, Meg had more things piled in front of, to the side of,  or under her seat than the rest of us combined.  Cal slept quite a bit, catching up from the early morning basketball games, after school rounds of golf practice and late night exercise routines.  Brett read, quizzed us on historical facts and enjoyed the 1960s Batman Series we "borrowed" from my Dad.

Our first stop was the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame - not enough history of basketball for Doug, but a lot of fun activities for the three youngest Heinisch's.  Doug and Cal then spent the evening at the Boston Celtics game - a must see for the Kevin Garnett fan!  The rest of us enjoyed the Coco Key Water Park Resort in our hotel.  With an indoor lazy river, body slides and smoothies to drink, who wouldn't.  During this time, Brett and I spent a lot of time talking about Pope Francis, rap music, texting and all sorts of great things. What a wonderful way to start our non-Florida vacation!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring Break

Today is the last day before Spring Break begins and I have noticed over the years that it is a day of mixed feelings for the students.  Those who are spending the week traveling to vacation destinations with their family are excited and can't wait for the day to end.  Some that are staying home for break share the wonderful feeling of sleeping in, visiting relatives, playing video games, having sleep overs with friends, etc.

The ones that always catch my attention are those that express feelings of sadness about the week long break from school.  For many of them, school is the only stable part of their life.  So, today when a student asked if he could share what he is doing over Spring Break, I hesitated.  I know it is hard for those who have never had a vacation to hear about the plans of those who are traveling to Florida, Vegas, the Dominican Republic, Washington D. C. and more.  I decided to tell them that we could share our Spring Break plans if all shared.  Some looked at me funny and others panicked.  They did not want to say, "I'm not doing anything." Or, "I'm babysitting for my siblings while my parents work."  Or, "I hope I get to see my Dad."

I then went on to explain to them, that if they weren't going anywhere to try and think of one thing they are going to do that they love, or one thing about school that they will not miss.  After brainstorming a little bit, I called on the first hand up.  "Mrs. Heinisch, I am not going anywhere, but tonight I am going to watch the Hoosiers win."  Some clapped and others booed, but thankfully Josh set the right tone.  Immediately, Gabe's hand shot up as he exclaimed,  "I am doing nothing over Spring Break, but I am glad that I do not have to see Mrs. Heinisch for a week!" Everyone laughed and soon other students shared where they were going or some fun thing about their life at home.  We moved on to a game and class seemed to end well with everyone excited about their week off.

As the students filed out, one of the girl's came up to me and said, "I'm not just saying this Mrs. Heinisch.  I really mean it.  I just love this class and I wish we didn't have Spring Break."  I smiled, gave her a hug, and told her I would think about her every day over break.  (I did not tear up, but I sure wanted to.)  She agreed to take a notebook home and write about this great character she had created in her fantasy story.  I can't wait to see what she has done with this, and I hope she can tell everyone that the best part of her week off was writing a story to share with Mrs. Heinisch.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Grandpa Cutes

Happy 70th Birthday to my Dad aka Grandpa Cutes.  In honor of your big day the Heinisch children have made a poem just for you.  All four contributed and I will let you guess which one said what.  Thank you for all of the time you spend with them!!  Enjoy your birthday card!!  Doug thought it was perfect for you!

Greatest Golfer
Ready to be a Villain in any Story
Awesome Grandkids
Never Dunked
Pool Shark
Alf Watcher

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Happy Birthday Grandma

Tomorrow my Grandmother would be 91 years old.  I would have loved to spend that day with her.  She died 5 years ago and the Heinisch family misses her greatly.  You do not have to know me long to realize that my grandparents meant the world to me.  They loved their family very much and for the last 7 years of their life left the warm weather of Florida to live in Indiana to be closer to all of us.  I appreciate that they did this or my children would have never gotten to know them, but what I admire most about my grandparents was their devotion to one another.

I was very close to my Grandfather growing up and spent many hours listening to his stories of World War II.  He was my hero growing up and my safety net after my brother died.  My grandmother felt the same about him and on the last night of his life I spent several hours with her listening as she praising him.  She told me stories that I never knew and I cherish them to this day.  He married her after he returned from the war and instantly became the father of four.  They went on to have two children of their own and I never grew tired of listening to their struggles raising six children and his devotion to family.  During the roughest times economically, my Grandfather worked four jobs to support all of them.  It was obvious from his actions that he loved all  his children and grandchildren even if he never spoke those words.

When my CrapPa was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer I was devastated.  I know my Grandmother was too.  I visited him everyday for five months with a Heinisch child in tow.  I cherish those visits and I love that my children remember him and the fun they had listening to the same stories I heard.  A week before he died, with little voice left, he was even able to tell Brett and Cal a baseball story from World War II that I had  never heard before.

On the week he started slipping in and out of consciousnesses we had tickets to the IU football game in Bloomington.     I decided that we would still make the four hour trip even though he might be gone by the time we got back.  We had visited him and loved him and I know he knew that.  As his final night arrived my Grandmother called her children to let them know that this was probably it and if they wanted to see him they needed to come visit.  No one told me that I had to cut my trip short, but I just knew that he was waiting for me.  I arrived close to midnight and my Grandmother was not suprised to see me.  I listened to her stories and we both listened to his erratic breathing.  After several hours I realized that I didn't want the night to end, but I knew that she was growing tired and I must let him go.  As I walked out of the bedroom I let him know that Purdue lost.  He could not speak and I love that I got the last word in on our long running IU-Purdue debate.  I woke up the next morning to find out that my beloved Grandfather had died about fifteen minutes after I left.

Six weeks later my Grandmother joined him.  They were together again as it should be.  As I spoke at her funeral I could not talk of sadness.  Instead I retold the story of  the night she and I had spent together, the night of Grandpa's death.  I thought that evening was about him, but it wasn't.  It was really about her and I spending time together.  She spoke so passionately about him and she could have never found a more willing audience.  Just as she did, I believed that Paw Paw (or as I called him CrapPa) was an amazing man.  Grandma and I created a memory late one October night that will last a lifetime.  I miss her and on the 27th of March I will take time to wish her the best birthday ever.  I know her and CrapPa are enjoying the Heinisch family from afar and that we still love them both very much!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Over the past several years I have done all of my "Spring Cleaning" in the fall.  I find that to be the perfect time as the Heinisch children are all back in school and the house could use some attention after summer break is over.  This year was different, however, as I became a contracted teacher again!  Before this school year I had spent the last sixteen years at home with my children, substitute teaching as we could fit it into our schedule.

I was offered the teaching position in July and since then my life has been crazy.  I had not realized how little attention I had been paying to the house.  We were able to keep up with the typical cleaning (bathrooms, kitchen, dusting, etc.), but not the deep cleaning that all homes with children need from time to time.  Since I am only teaching four hours a day this trimester, I thought I'd had better catch up on my cleaning in March.  Brett graduates on June 8th and we plan to have his open house in our home.  

With cleaning supplies, paper towel, trash bags and the like in hand I started the adventure in Cal and Cameron's room.  It took me a while to sort through the clutter, the dust and the stuffed animals.  I have noticed over the years that Cameron's stuffed animal collection has grown as each of his siblings has passed on their cherished "friends" to him with the understanding that he is never to get rid of them.  He stays true to his word and as we sorted through the pack he would say to me, "I have to keep that one.  It is a memory."
Cal is not a keeper of memories.  Instead he is the water bottle king.  I appreciate his thoughtfulness to the environment, but would have been a lot happier had he put the 21 plastic bottles I found under his bed in the recycling bin. 

Feeling a sense of accomplishment I moved on to Meg's room and my jaw dropped.  I have never seen so much stuff scattered in one room in my life.  She is not a hoarder as you see on TV and has no problem getting rid of her "memories."  However, Meg's ability to organize seems to be lacking.  Thus, I decided to bring her in on the project.  After my eight hours and her four hours, Meg was proud to show off her room to her grandparents via Face Time.  She promised all of us it would never look that way again and true to her word it is still clean several weeks later.  

Compared to his siblings, Brett's room was a breeze.  He is a keeper (especially of books), but has them all organized. He is also very helpful, so a quick dusting and reorganizing led to the end of the upstairs.   We were having guests over to watch the Big Ten Tourney, so I had a reason to get the basement in order as well.  I quickly polished that off the list as well.

I was happy to have this part of our Spring Cleaning done, but I noticed last week I was very anxious.  I realized Friday that this anxiety was coming from the thought of finishing the last room in the house - the toy/storage room.  I decided I had to call in the Big Dogs for this - so this weekend all six of us spent some time in that area of the basement.  All told it took 15 hours of combined effort, but it was so worth it!

The Heinisch children will tell you that I am a clean-freak obsessed with organization.  They may be correct, but it felt just wonderful today to wake up knowing everything was in its place.  I will worry about my obsession tomorrow!! 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Goodbye to High School Musicals

A chapter of Brett's high school career closed last night with his last performance on the high school stage.  Drama has been a huge part of Brett's life and it has been a lot of fun to see him grow as a performer.  Brett started his life in drama with a bit part in a middle school performance.  It was long hours and a lot of work for as little as he was on the stage.  I remember him telling me after the play was over that he "would never be in a play again!"

That quickly changed his freshmen year when he found out that the fall production was to be Alice in Wonderland.  Brett is a big fan of the book and asked me if he got a part in the play would I read the book. He was excited to land the role of the executioner and we were pleased to see him on stage.  He played the role well and true to my word I did read the book.  Luckily, he enjoyed acting a lot more than I did Lewis Carroll.

There have been eight productions since Brett started high school.  The fall lends itself to smaller, dramatic plays with the spring reserved for large scaled musicals with big casts.  Brett has been involved in all of eight of these and was invited to join the Thespian Society.  Meg and Cameron loved him as a cheese grater in Beauty and the Beast.  I am not sure he enjoyed it as much until he realized that he received a lot of recognition for wearing the cumbersome costume.  This year was a break out for him.  He played the only comedic role in the 1920's Cheaper By the Dozen.  He absolutely nailed the part and it was fun to see him take on a role that he wasn't sure he could play.  The final production for him was Thoroughly Modern Millie.  For the first time ever he had to dance with a partner on stage and in the front row.  I know that was a stretch for him as it was way outside of his comfort zone.

With all of this, however,  I was most proud of him in one of the smaller productions in which he
didn't earn a part.  He was asked for a call back to play a doctor in Harvey and was one of the last
students to be cut.  When he learned that he didn't earn the role I asked him how he felt about it, he said "I was disappointed, but decided I will join the lighting crew."  I love that about him - ever positive, always seeing the sunny-side of things (except Calculus.)  So last night we said goodbye to high school musicals.  I will miss that next year, but I know in college that he will find a group that he enjoys as much as the friends he made through drama.  Isn't that what life is all about?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Golf Season

High school golf season is upon us and Cal has joined this year's team.  The boys practiced today even though it is 40 degrees and most courses are closed.  They must have ten practices in before the first match and it has been challenging to do this Spring.  One day was a putting clinic in the carpeted alcove at the high school.  Another practice was a rules meeting.  The boys have had a good team over the years, so I believe they will still be ready even with the lack of practice.  I am excited for Cal to join this group.  Golf was important to my family as I was growing up.  My own girls high school golf team finished sixth in the state my junior year and our number one golfer from way back then also has a freshmen joining this year's high school team.  Last year Cal and Jeffrey led the middle school team to a second place finish in the conference tournament with Cal taking 2nd place individual honors and Jeffrey third.

Even with this said, I do not put pressure on my children to compete.  I do not live vicariously through my them.  I realize that their golf team may never reach the state competition.  No, the real reason I am happy for golf season to begin is that we can have a break from basketball for awhile.  It is not the coaches, the players or even the wins or loses that make youth basketball unbearable to watch.  It is the parents.  The ones who start yelling at the officials in the pee wee league, who then continue in middle school by yelling at the coaches and follow up in the high school years by yelling at the players.  During my time in the bleachers I have heard a parent scream, "You Suck!" at players.  I have heard countless complaints about the coach, playing time, officials, the offense, the defense, and even the cheerleaders.  Letters have even been written to the editor asking for the coach to be fired.  With all of this, however, I believe my jaw dropped the most this year when I saw a mother coaching her son from the stands while he was actually watching her.  I can't even imagine Cal's reaction if I did that.  

Early in the season the JV coach told me to get thicker skin as it gets worse as the boys get older (I know he said it in jest as he realizes that will never happen.)  My husband tells me that this takes place at all schools (I know he is right.)  The boys say that all of this negativity does not bother them.  I cannot tell if it does.  I would love to stand up and yell, "Hey, they are only 14" or "Seriously, you were that great when you were in high school."  I never will.  I am not someone who likes to argue.  I just wish that one time I could load all of the players up in my van and take them to the obnoxious fans' places of employment.  I would love to hear them yell directions, obscenities, and all of the negative comments they hear at "fans" while they are trying to do their best.  The thought of that gets me through the game with a smile on my face.  So if you see me sitting at the top of the bleachers with my headphones on or hanging out with the youngest of fans who are only there to watch the big kids they idolize, I hope you realize why.  I am not a snob.  Just a mom who can't stand to listen to the adults who take the fun out of the game.

So yes, golf season is here and I am glad.  Parents have to stay 50 feet away from the players.  Although the sport is not perfect, and I am sure there are fans that complain in high school golf as well, so far I have never heard anyone yell, "Get him out!" when a player misses a putt.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Happy 12th Birthday Meg

Twelve years ago today was one the happiest, yet scariest days of my life.  Meg came into this world in dramatic fashion with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck twice, not breathing.  I had been having excruciating headaches the last two weeks of my pregnancy, and my blood pressure was on the high side.  Because of this and the fact that Cal was born very quickly after I started labor, my OB decided to induce me six days before my due date.  I was nervous and asked him about the possibility of having a C-section.  I had Brett and Cal naturally and wanted very much to avoid surgery.  My doctor smiled and said, "Don't worry.  Plan on having this one naturally as well."

I was induced the next morning bright and early.  I noticed the contractions were strong and hard from the start, but thought that was normal.  The nurse came in to check me after 20 minutes or so.  She smiled and asked me a couple of questions relating to pain.  She left the room and within seconds was back with several other nurses, a doctor and an IV pole.  I knew that wasn't normal.  Meg was not thriving and my blood pressure was through the roof.  In a short period of time I was being
prepped for emergency surgery.

Doug wasn't allowed to be with me doing the c-section.  There wasn't time for a epidermal.  I started to panic as they put the mask on me and kept fighting the nurse.  I remember her telling me that the baby needed the oxygen, but it wasn't registering.  I was scared.  The last thing I heard was the anesthesiologist say, "Don't worry.  I'll take care of it" (and I was out.)

I awoke freezing cold.  I had had my gall bladder removed a year earlier, but that surgery did not prepare me for the pain of a c-section.  I did not say anything in the recovery room about the baby and the nurses did not say anything to me.  My heart sank as I was sure that the baby didn't make it.  I was wheeled back to my room and was so excited to see Doug holding a small little bundle.  I immediately asked, "What did we have?"  He obviously said, "A girl!"  The nurses couldn't believe
that I hadn't asked them, but the truth is if Meg hadn't made it I wanted Doug to tell me.

Meg has been a wonderful addition to our lives - a free spirit, full of life.  She is the animal loving, Lego building, athletic, social butterfly, Tom Boy Heinisch.  Neither Doug and I ever thought we would have a girl.  It has changed the dynamics of our household and I love that!  I can still picture Brett running around the room at my parents screaming, "I have a sister.  I have a sister!"  Meg and I will have many dramatic days in our bond as Mother and Daughter, but I hope none as scary as March 22, 2001!!  Today I take pause and remain ever thankful for all who helped bring her into the world!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March Madness

March Madness is upon us as the NCAA men's basketball tournament begins today.  The Heinisch children have their brackets filled out.  We have all debated the possible champions and each of us secretly hopes that IU is this year's big winner.  

As I review our family's brackets I can read each of our personality's in the picks.  Doug afraid of being disappointed picked IU to lose in the round of 16.  This way he can be happy he chose the correct winner in the IU vs. Syracuse game or he can enjoy IU's victory as a Hoosier alumni.  Brett figured out many years ago that the best route is to pick all of the top seeds as big upsets are rare.  That makes sense to me since he is my play it safe child, ever reliable and dependable.  Cal always picks a Cinderella team.  Some years it pays off great and some years not so much.  He likes the underdogs in life as they are a lot like him.  Each have a dream and work hard to try to reach it.  Meg chooses her teams with her Dad.  She admires him, looks up to him and values his opinion, even if she doesn't always act like it.  Cameron is my great thinker.  He put a lot of time into picking the winners in his bracket, asking questions of Doug or Cal, researching the teams history and using his best educated opinion on each game.  

My parents have joined the Heinisch pool this year.  Their personalities are easy to spot as well.  My Mom makes sure her picks will not win the pool.  She doesn't want any of the grandchildren to "feel like losers", so she makes sure she always finishes last.  My Dad's picks usually have someone outrageous making it to the Final Four.  He loves getting a rise out of his grandchildren and giving them something to tease him about until the next basketball season.  

This year I analyzed my bracket as well.  Does it reflect my personality?  I was surprised to find out that it does?  I have stayed loyal to the teams I have always rooted for.  I chose ones that I like more than ones that have a chance of winning.  My favorite teams are those that have had a consistent, honest program.  I believe that is how I view life - loyalty, honesty and stability are three things that I value most.  I do not know if this works for every person who fills out a bracket during the month of March, but for the Heinisch  and Musser family members our picks during March Madness are a tell tale sign of who we are on the inside!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Groundhog and the First Day of Spring

I saw this picture last night and absolutely loved it.  Cameron has been mad at Punxsutawney Phil for several days now.  He celebrated Ground Hog's Day and believed the prediction of an early Spring.  Cal spent some time last week trying to make Cameron understand that it was just a myth.  He told him that groundhogs can't predict the start of a season or the weather trends for any length of time.  Meg then explained to Cam that it was a para-dime anyway (if Phil sees his shadow an early Spring or if Phil doesn't see his shadow six more weeks of winter - both the same prediction )  Brett jumped in on the conversation with his own opinion of meteorologists and weather predictors.  He let Cameron know that they are all just dream crushers since they are never correct anyway.  Brett has been let down too many times when he believed we would have a delay or snow day from a weatherman's forecast to wake up to the reality that school is open.

Cameron listened to them all, but didn't feel any better.  He still believes in the dreams of childhood and he is sure that a groundhog let him down.  I don't know whether to blame Phil or not.  As I walk outside on the first day of Spring to find it 29 degrees with a 70% chance of snow I tend to agree with Cameron.  Someone has to pay!! Might as well be that cute like guy above that gave us so much hope on February 2nd.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Scholarship season is upon us and it has almost become a part time job for Brett, Doug and I.  Every two weeks he brings home a newsletter from the guidance department with a list of all of the upcoming scholarships, the qualifications needed to apply and the requirements.  Most applications are three to four pages long.  They ask for two letters of recommendations which changes with each scholarship.  Some ask for a letter from a teacher or the guidance department.  Others need a letter from a pastor, employer or volunteer organizer.  The essays can be long (1000 words) or short (100 words).  Very few ask the same question, so Brett has spent a lot of time writing these essays.  I am glad that he had ACP English the previous two trimesters, so that he was ready for the task.  Doug and I spend a good deal of time on Sunday afternoons perusing the newsletter to find scholarships that fit Brett's qualifications.  We proof read his essays and check the applications for any errors.

Brett has been great through this process.  I know that there are things he would rather be doing.  Due to his time commitments with band, drama, academic superbowl, volunteering and school, he was never able to find a stable part-time job.  He hopes that the work he has put into the scholarships will pay off.   Time will tell as most of them will be awarded in the next few months.  Brett is our guinea pig as all first children must be.  We will see if this was worth our time or not in terms of money.  I know that it has been worth it to me in terms of quality time with Brett.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Life of a Superintendent

There are no bigger fans of our superintendent than the four Heinisch children.  Brett calls him, "Doc!" and debates public education with him.  Cal challenges him to high stakes ping pong matches where the winner calls the next two hour delay day.   Meg truly believes that outside of his own children and grandchildren that there is no one other child in the world that he likes more than her.  Finally, Cameron spends any chance that he gets trying to talk our superintendent into a delay or cancellation.  "Doc" listens to them, jokes with them, encourages them in their many activities and gives them great advice.  They all look up to them and I enjoy watching them interact with him.

Doug and I share their opinion.  Our superintendent has seen the school change drastically over the past five years he has been in charge.  The downturn in the economy hit our area hard.  Families have left our community in search of jobs.  The percentage of students receiving free and reduced lunches has almost tripled.  Teachers must now be evaluated with the talk of merit pay to be added to their contracts.  Through all of this our superintendent has remained positive.  He continues his hands on approach.  He attends sports functions, academic activities, the plays, drops in on classes, has a lunch buddy, is a science fair judge, and a spelling bee bell ringer.  He continually works with the principals of our district to keep students involved and in school.

Cal did win the ping pong match.  Although, he never really called a delay for Cal, the next time there was one he let all of the 7th graders know it was because of Cal's ping pong abilities.  Each of my children have had a delay on or close to their birthday.  It was for snow or fog, but when they pointed it out he let them know it was in honor of their big day.  I know one of the hardest things he had to do was ring the bell when Meg missed a word in the spelling bee.  She was in shock, but it didn't change her opinion of him.  Yesterday at the Knights' St. Patrick Day Party, Cameron tried talking him into at least a "one minute delay."  So, today while my children debate for which one of them he called the snow day for, I smile.  I realize that he called it because of the ice, but I love that they believe that he
cares that much about them.   I know that he cares that much about all of the children of our corporation.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Erin Go Bragh!

Even though the Heinisch family ties its roots to Germany, we all enjoy the festivities of St. Patrick's Day.  Dressed in green for an early morning mass.  Followed up by the Knights of Columbus's traditional luncheon of corned beef and cabbage.  The beaded necklaces, light-up glasses, paper leprechauns, talk of gold at the end of the rainbow, and a mulitude of green desserts all add to the enjoyment of the day. 

I have always dreamed of touring the country of Ireland.  I hope that one day Doug and I will be able to make that dream a reality.  I envision quaint cottages, rolling hills, and dining on cuisine at the local pubs.  No, I am not Irish, but for one day a year, I like to pretend that I am.  I thank St. Patrick for driving out the snakes of Ireland and for his devotion to faith and country - Erin Go Bragh!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Happy 50th Anniversary!!

Today is my parents 50th wedding anniversary!!  No big party - I was told they did not want one.  There will be no picture in the local paper of them 50 years younger with a big "Happy 50th!" written above it.  (I was told that there would be a follow-up picture of me in my awkward middle school years the next week if one appeared.)  Instead over the past two weeks my parents have been celebrating their Golden Anniversary with a walk down memory lane   They have visited family and friends whom they haven't seen in years.  Dined at restaurants they haven't eaten at  in decades.  Taken pictures, reminisced and most of all spent a lot of quality time together.

I have been with them for 44 years of this adventure.  Yet, it doesn't feel like it sounds - 50 years!!  Fifty years of memories, pictures, tragedy, triumphs, jobs, homes, rounds of golf - Wow!!  I know they would say the best part of their past 50 years would be their four grandchildren.  However, I am glad they took a break from being grandparents and took their stroll down memory lane.  I have enjoyed listening to them talk of their journey - together as it should be.

I am proud of my parents for making it this long - especially since 2/3 of all marriages that lose a child end in divorce.  My own husband, Doug, and I have been married for 20 years in May.  I think of all that we have accomplished and shared together.  I have set a goal that Doug and I will also spend several weeks right before our own 50th wedding anniversary (in 2043) touring the memories of our life together.  Happy 50th Mom and Dad!!  The Heinisch family thanks you for all you do for us -  without your union the title of this blog would be:  There's Nothing Going on in the Heinisch Home!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Just Keep Swimming

Last night brought the end to middle school swim season.  It is a short season (four weeks long with four meets.)  When Meg first asked to join the team, Doug said no.  Basketball was just ending and soccer will start soon.  Meg and I talked him into it.

Meg swam for the swim club last year and it was a huge commitment.  She worked hard, enjoyed it, but it was too much for us.  Doug thought middle school swim team would be the same. After the third meet, he finally understood what I knew all along.  Meg wasn't swimming to compete.  She was swimming to socialize.  He watched her walk poolside from friend to friend, cheering on her teammates, catching up on the latest gossip and all around having  a great time.  On the way home after the competitions she would fill me in on everything that happened on the bus. 

She did improve her time in both the breast stroke and butterfly, but finding out who was dating whom was much more exciting for her.  This is a new concept for Doug.  The boys have always talked a lot, but never so much about their social life.  I love that about her.  She is constantly happy enjoying the party that is 6th grade.  I know life will become more serious for her as she grows older, but for now we will enjoy this part of her!! 

By the way just to let her swim coach know - I did finally speak to her about standing by her friends still talking away as they were on the block waiting to compete.  She now waits for them at the end of the race!!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

White Smoke

"There's white smoke!" I texted Brett.  It was an hour before school would be out, but I knew he'd check as soon as his last block ended.  When I heard his voice on the other end I excitedly filled him in on the news.  He screamed with delight, much as the young priest working with the CBS news team did, as he exclaimed, "Cardinal Bergoglio is our new Pope.  How wonderful for our church!"

Since Pope Benedict  announced his retirement, Brett has been following the Papal watch.  He quizzed the leaders of our own parish on their predictions of the next Pope.  He even joined a youth prayer group praying for the Cardinals as they entered the conclave.  The suspense had been eating at him so I know he was releived when the announcement came.

I have to admit that I didn't realize how excited I was until the bell rang.  I was glued to the television awaiting the announcement.  After spending the day in class talking about the crazy hair of the 1980s I couldn't help but watch in awe the ceremonial tradition before me that had stood the test of time.  Citizens of Rome parked their cars in the street and ran when they heard the news to join the thousands of people already standing in the rain.  Now I understood why.  It was exhilarating, a time of renewal and a feeling of hope.

There will be time for debate about the path the Catholic Curch will take.  Maybe it will be a time of change with a Jesuit leader from Argentina dedicated to serving the poor.  Either way I was reminded yesterday of why I love the Catholic Church - tradition.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Big Hair and Ripped Jeans

One of the standards in FACS (Family and Consumer Science) is the changing roles of adolescents.  When we study this unit, I focus on the 1950s (when most of their grandparents were teenagers), the 1980s (when most of their parents were teenagers) and now.  I show clips of Leave It to Beaver, Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show, The Cosby Show, etc. and we discuss the changing generations and how it affected the lives of teenagers.  They learn several facts that surprise them (the low divorce rate in the 1950s at 14%) and some they already knew (poodle skirts were popular.)

Today in class, everyone was excited to learn that we were going to watch the original video from Bon Jovi for "Living on a Prayer."  Thanks to Guitar Hero and the longevity of the band, almost all of my students had heard the song before.  Many were able to sing along!  In the opening scene the band walks out in a white light with a shadow in which all you can see is the hair.  This always brings some type of comment that starts with "Look at the Big Hair!"  Even though I have had heard this many times, it always makes me laugh.  Hair was big in the 80s and we all thought we looked great with it!!  (Someone today also said - "Hey, one of my friend's dad still dresses that way!")  Anyway, I tell my students "The perm, the hair spray, the comb - it was time consuming, but, wow, didn't we look awesome!" OK, this in turn makes them laugh and we discuss current trends and brainstorm what their children and grandchildren will one day think is "weird!"

However, instead of big hair, my 8th graders spent a lot of time today talking about the tight, ripped jeans that Bon Jovi was wearing.  I hadn't remembered that trend as much as I had the hair.  They noticed immediately because students aren't allowed to wear ripped jeans in our school system or in many others neighboring our community.  As they discussed this fact, reality hit me.  We were the generation that was allowed to wear jeans with holes in them (and even bought them that way), but our children cannot wear them.  When I told them of this oxymoron, they cried out in protest.  They might have a point.  I wonder if we all forgot what "a cool statement" ripped jeans were when were teenagers.  Or maybe the dress code rules makers are the ones whose parents never let them wear jeans with holes in them. They are secretly getting their revenge on those of us who were allowed to rip our pants and show off our big hair.  Either way it brought for lively debate and a stroll down memory lane for me.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Academic Superbowl

Academic Superbowl season is upon us.  If you have never been to a competition or even heard of one, then here is a brief synopsis.  Middle School and High School students compete as a team against other schools in Science, Social Studies, Fine Arts, Math and English.  There is a broad topic (this year's is Ancient Greece) with specific questions relating to the subject you are studying.  The events are sponsored by Purdue University and the Indiana Association of Principals.  The reward for the five top teams in each category in each class is a trip to the state finals in May in West Lafayette 

Our son, Brett, is in his seventh year of participating on the Social Studies team.  The high school coach for his team is my middle school social studies teacher that retired many years ago.  She is the most eccentric person I have ever met, but she has a way of teaching students about history that the students love.  She is brash, loud, and opinionated, yet she always asks for and listens to her students opinions, even when they differ from hers.  She fosters a love of learning and hard work ethic that is amazing.  Her team meets with her for several hours a week at school and then every Saturday at her home (cats and all) for a four hour study session.  By the time the state competition rolls around the team will be studying twelve hours a week.  Through all of this I have never heard one of her students complain about the commitment.  They can't wait to see what they are going to be learning about, take the tests, talk about the ills of government and/or the debate the questions that may or may not be asked.

She has had many successes over the years with numerous conference, regional and invitational championships.  My son's own teams have finished 2nd in state twice and were state champions his sophomore year.  I know that she is competitive and does love to win, but it is apparent that her real victory is in seeing the students grow and develop their own thirst for knowledge.  What a great example for me as a teacher!

Monday, March 11, 2013

No Mercy

     In the Heinisch home it was established early that there would be no mercy shown between siblings.  We have no princess in our home, even though Meg's the only girl.  It doesn't matter that Cam is four years younger than his next oldest sibling - there is no baby.  The four of them expect each other to work hard and try their best on everything they do.  It's a no excuses, no holds barred atmosphere and I love it!

     We didn't start out this way.  Not having siblings for the majority of my life, I didn't really understand sibling dynamics.  Thus, Doug set the tone for this part of our life.  There is no name calling allowed.  Physical confrontations are forbidden.  Challenging one another to do his or her best, however, is strongly encouraged!

     As the Heinisch children have grown I have seen them stop one another when a sibling plays the wrong note on the piano, demonstrate the correct form for shooting a basketball, kick rocket like soccer balls at each other to improve their goalie skills, quiz each other on spelling bee words, study Bible verses together, play countless hours of chess for an upcoming tourney and the list goes on.  Their dedication to pushing each other to succeed was never more evident than a month ago.  Cal had an assignment due in Honors Algebra 2 that he had left in his locker after basketball practice.  As Cal and I were arguing about going back to get it (me) or doing it before school (him), Brett stepped up with his truck keys.  "Come on Cal, we're heading back."  Argument over!

     There have been issues along the way - Cam refused to write stories when he was five, because his siblings would constantly correct his spelling or critique his illustrations.  Overall, though, I think their approach has had more positives than negatives - an Academic Superbowl State Champion, 2nd in conference for golf, Science Fair winner and multiple years on the Principal's Honor Roll.  So if you drove by our home tonight and heard Cal chanting, "Cam's a chump!  Cam's a chump!"  (not a  misspelling!) Ignore it!  Just a life lesson from one brother to another!

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Last night was BINGO night for the high school boys golf team at the Knights of Columbus.  As Cal is a member of the golf team and Doug and Brett are both Knights we decided to participate in the event.  The Knights in our community donate over $100,000 a year to local groups in our area.  Most of the money they give out is rasied during these Saturday night BINGO events.

As our town is one of under 3000 people this is an amazing amount to be able to raise and distribute.  I admire the Knights dedication to service, but I have to be honest, I hate playing BINGO.  I'm not much on gambling, do not play the lottery, am not looking for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or waiting for a long, lost, wealthy relative to die.  Thus, I am totally in awe of the regular BINGO crowd that shows up for these weekly events.  They have a mulititude of dobbers (liquid markers to dot their number cards) lined up in front of them.  They rotate these dobbers by the color of the card, month of the year, shirt they are wearing, etc.  Lucky charms surround them and the numerous cards they are playing.  The regulars all seem to know each others names and where each sits.  They know who won last week, who has a hot hand, the dinner specials, the nicknames of the Knights working and the crazy names of the BINGO games (bacon and eggs, the cross, and check mark just to name a few.)

I have attended several BINGO nights to support my children's activities and the Knights.  I realize that I now pay less attention to my card and the numbers being called and more to the crowd.  It can get nasty - new players learn to never touch someone else's dobber or lucky charm.  Most regulars spend twice as much on tip boards than BINGO in the hope of winning big.  Tip boards also have crazy names - last night's was "Got it Bad."  Some names get great response such as "Mother Clucker" and others just lay an egg.

I appreciate the Knights providing support to our community.  Although BINGO is not my thing, I think everyone should attend just once to experience this ritual!!  People watchers and lottery players beware - you just may get hooked!!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Family Change

After my students and I discuss "What Makes a Family?", I then have them brainstorm on the question "How Can a Family Change?"  They usually respond very quickly to this one.  The first response is almost always divorce.  Almost half of the students have experienced divorce in their own home, so this does not surprise me.  I was pleased that this trimester's 8th grade class had some deep thinkers and even came up with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  

The one I always pause on and give my thoughts is when a group replies with death.  At this point I take a moment to share with them that my own brother died when he was 13 and I was 8.  There is usually a moment of reflection and then a hand goes up.  "Mrs. Heinisch, how did he die?"  I am used to this question and always answer the same - "He had a genetic disorder that caused his aorta to rupture.  Although we knew he had this disorder, his death was unexpected."  This answer seems to always satisfy their curiosity and rarely is anything more asked.  Before we move on I tell them that he was my only sibling, so death really did change my family forever.

Since he was five years older than me, my brother, Bunk, was my hero.  I wanted to be just like him and wanted to be with him always.  Of course, this always annoyed him greatly.  When he died our house just felt sad.  Holidays were not the same.  My parents were devastated and decided that we needed to move.  In the end we all made it through, but it was a rough road.  My Mom didn't like to talk about Bunk.  It made her too sad.  I had all new friends in our new town, so there was no one to talk to him about.  

During those dark days we stopped going to church (we have all since returned.)  My Mom became overprotective of me.  I hated that at times, but I always understood why.  I carried a lot of guilt inside of me (guilt that I survived, guilt that I pestered him, etc.)  When I hit twenty years old, I started having panic attacks about my own mortality.  Through some amazing words that a pastor said to me I finally started to accept this change in our family and begin the healing process. 

Time does not heal all wounds.  I learned that.  Thirty-five years have gone by since my brother died, but it can still bring a tear to my eye.  What I have noticed in my family is that the birth of my own children also drastically changed my parents lives (and mine of course).  It gave my Mom and Dad the right to be happy again, to love unconditionally, to share memories and the pain did lessen.  One of my sons has many of Bunk's characteristics.  One day out on the soccer field he gave me a look that I had seen a million times before when I was a little girl.  Although I am sure that the look said, "Go Away!", it made me smile, as I was positive that Bunk was letting me know he was still a part of our family.  

Friday, March 8, 2013


We started our unit on families in my middle school FACS classes this week.  When I asked the students the question "What Makes a Family?", many words were written on the smart board.  One group boldly walked up and in big blue letters wrote - TRADITION.  They are not the first group to have done this, but I never grow tired of watching my students' faces light up talking about traditions their families have and how important they are to them.

Our family too is filled with many traditions - opening God Parent gifts on Christmas Eve, confetti fights at Grandma Jane's on New Year's Eve, etc.  This November I thoroughly enjoyed watching Doug pass on one of his favorite family tradition to his children - The Heinisch Thanksgiving Flag Football Game!  The enthusiasm and seriousness of the game is shown best in the photo above.  "Official jerseys must be worn" - so my Dad pulled out his basketball jersey of years ago and suited up to play as well.  I was guardian of the rules and split up the teams.  My Dad, Cal and Cameron were positive they were going to trounce the "weaker" Heinisch team of Doug, Brett and Meg.  They had made up plays, held a practice session, argued about blown calls, but never counted on the most reluctant member of the group to be the star.  Brett caught
the winning touchdown and the victory celebration began!!

Talk at the dinner table was plenty.  The enthusiasm for the tradition was high.  A great day was had by all.  I know one day that they will start their own family traditions.  I realize that they may not continue to bake Christmas cookies on Christmas Eve, but I hope they take fond memories of those days with them.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pride & Prejudice

I have a guilty pleasure that no one outside of our home knows about.  The truth is that while I am tackling a big cleaning project I watch the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice!  It is six hours of enjoyment that I carry with me from room to room on my daughter's portable DVD.  I don't know if I have watched the series or read the book more, but I never grow tired of the love story unfolding between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth

My husband started my Jane Austen obsession when he gave me a copy of her novel, Sense and Sensibility.  Since then I have read everything written by Jane Austen and have seen several movies adapted from her books.  Although I have enjoyed them all, none holds a candle to the story that is told from the homes of Longbourn, Netherfield Park and Pemberley.  The books were written over two hundred years ago, but the characters still seem real today.  Everyone knows a proud man, stubborn young woman, an incurable flirt, a person of little sense, a long winded clergyman, etc.  My daughter happened upon me during one of my cleaning sessions and even she was drawn into the series. When it wrapped up, she looked at me and said,  "I know who the mother reminds me of!  It's that woman at our church!"

The writing is wonderful and the characters are fascinating.  That, however, is not why I continue my fifteen year obsession with her novels.  Ultimately, if the truth be told, it is the happy ending that always leads me back to Jane Austen.  I will leave the grief and sadness that encompasses Wuthering Heights and A Portrait of a Lady for others to read.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013



S - Sleeping In

N - No School

O - Outside Shoveling Snow

W - Wii Tournaments

D - Dining Out for Lunch

A - All Thankful for Dr. Edington

Y - Yuuuuuup!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Asthma is Not My Friend

As I type this I am listening to my 8 year old, Cameron, dealing with the after affects of a late night asthma attack.  He is by me on the couch, drained, coughing and breathing heavy.  I am used to this sound.  He is the second of our four children to have astma and in all honesty, although he sounds terrible, he has never had it as bad as Cal did. 

I wasn't expecting to have children with asthma.  No one in my family had asthma.  It was completely off my radar.  Thus, when Cal (at age 2) came running in the house screaming that bees were stinging his chest I ripped his shirt off expecting to find welts.  No welts or stingers were to be found, just a toddler struggling to catch his breath.  Because Cal coughs instead of wheezing when he has an attack it was hard to get a correct diagnosis at first.  After lung surgery and several trips to Riley's it was confirmed that he did have asthma and everything just seemed to make sense.  He was our fussiest baby, had a lot of difficulty sleeping and would spend one week out of every month a very sick little boy.  Now at least we knew why.

We went back and forth to Riley's Children Hospital, tried numerous steriods, inhalers and medications, missed many days of school, and had teachers/nurses calling in panic because he couldn't breath.  I spent numerous nights sleeping with my hand on Cal's chest to make sure it was rising and falling and made many ER trips. Besides all of the medical attention, it took a lot of prayers and trust in God to get our family through the "asthma phase of Cal's life." 

If it wasn't for our experience with his brother I would be panic strickened everytime Cameron woke me up with a coughing spell.  I am more confident and comfortable dealing with it.  I am very thankful that Cameron's asthma does not seem to be as severe as Cal's was.  I hope that he outgrows it much as his brother has. 

No, asthma is not my friend, but I have learned to accept it in our family.  In truth it has made the boys stronger (Cal's only had one attack in the past year.  It was during a hard fought, energy packed freshmen basketball game.  True to his inner determination he never told his coached and just played through it.)  Asthma has also made the rest of the family more empathetic to those with health problems or who have had an adversity to overcome. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

The oldest

Our oldest, Brett, called me this morning in a panic.  His truck wouldn't start and he didn't want to be late to school.  I work at a middle school ten minutes away, but was able to get home, drop him at school and make it back before class began.  As I drove I thought about my three other children and their comments of late.  Each one of them has expressed a sadness about Brett leaving for college next fall.  They know that their lives will never be the same after that.  He is the one they all get along with, rely on daily, and look up to.  He is an ideal older brother and they realize that. 

Even though there is ten years from our oldest to youngest, the Heinisch children spend a lot of time together.  I know that their feelings are valid and that our daily life will change greatly, but I cannot let myself feel sad about Brett's leaving us for college.  I hear his side of the story - "I am really looking forward to starting my life."  "I know I will meet a lot of great people."  "I can't wait to take classes that interest me, not just ones that are required."  Small town life is great for raising children, but it can feel stifling for a young adult ready to embark on his life's journey.  I am happy for him and I hope he enjoys his adult life as much as his Dad and I have.  I can't wait to see the man that he becomes. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The List

My 8 year old, Cameron, has become slightly obsessed with James Bond lately.  He watched the first 007 movie with his Dad and has been hooked ever since.  He is learning to play The James Bond Theme Song on the piano, listens to the soundtrack on my iPhone, watches and re-watches the movies, and talked his piano teacher into ordering a piano book for him with 19 of the title songs from the Bond films.  Last night I gave  him his brother's fedora and ever since he has been walking around the house pretending to be Odd Job throwing his hat at all of the "good guys" in our family.

I am used to obsessions with all of my children.  There has been Thomas the Tank Engine, Star Wars, the Chicago Bears, Dora, Elvis Presley, William Howard Taft, etc.  What fascinates me with my three boys, however, is their need to make a list with each and every obsession.  "Top 20 Running Backs in the NFL", "50 Strongest Pokemon", "Presidents in Order of My Favorites" are just a few that come to mind.  I believe my husband, Doug, began the craze when he compiled his "Top 100 Films" during a slow night in MBA accounting class.

Meg and I have never created lists of our top anything.  I wonder if it is a male bonding activity that we just don't understand (kind of like their love of James Bond - our least favorite films.)  Maybe it is a Heinisch family tradition that neither of us have been inclined to try.  Either way, Cameron can now join the group of Heinisch men in our home with his own list - "Top Ten James Bond Villains of All Time."

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Life of Pi

On Sunday I watched the Oscars with my oldest two boys.  As we all enjoy watching movies, we had fun making predications and cheering on our favorites.  The surpise of the night for us was the amount of awards "Life of Pi" won.  We had seen Les Miserables, Lincoln and several other winners, but not this movie with the intriguing title.  As the nickname of my children's favorite Uncle is also Pi, we thought we just had to check this film out.

From the opening scene my mom, Brett, Cam, Meg and I were mesmorized by the beauty of the movie, the trajedy that this young man indored and the amazing storytelling.  What really struck me as interesting was the ending.  Pi spent 90% of the film telling his life story and how he survived a shipwreck.  He first told an incredible story where animals become heroes, islands appear and disappear, and God is the hero.  When confronted by non-believing insurance agents he tells a second story that is realistic, more tragic and absolutely heart-breaking.  At the end none of us were 100% sure which story was true.  Our three children believed the first story of beauty, triumph and faith, and I believed the second.

I spent a lot of time today thinking about "The Life of Pi."  I realized that three of our children (even my 18 year old, Brett) live in a world of dreams, possibility, and overcoming the impossible.  They believe that a tiger and a boy can survive all odds.  I love that about them - always dreaming, ever positive, full of encouragement, self confidence and a commitment to faith.  I want my 14 year old, Cal, to see it.   I think he will believe the second ending.  Although he and I are strong believers in God we have seen more trajedy in life and have had to overcome more adversity.  Sometimes your experience in life changes how you view the world around you.

Friday, March 1, 2013

1st Day of a Slice of the Heinisch Life

Well, I accidentally deleted the post I had written earlier, so I will give it another try!  I am excited to join the slice of life challenge.  This is the first time I have had a personal blog.  Our class started one earlier in the school year and we have had a lot of fun with it, so thought I would start one as well!!

The title is inspired by the words of my 14 year old when he was 6 or 7 - more true words have not been spoken here!  The craziness that is the Heinisch Home has at times been exhausting, but always so much fun.  I wouldn't change our life for the world!